CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Toby being sole pick is an embarrassment
9:00am Thursday 25th October 2012 in Sport
DISAPPOINTING was the word used to describe Newport Gwent Dragons’ contribution of just one player to the Wales squad but embarrasing wouldn’t really be inappropriate.
Interim head coach Rob Howley will have more Perpignan players at his disposal than Dragons for the autumn Tests.
Of course it’s nothing new for the Rodney Parade region to be providing a smaller cut of the squad; Hal Luscombe, Kevin Morgan, Michael Owen, Ceri Sweeney and Gareth Cooper were always outnumbered by regional rivals.
In fact, look at those names and you realise that it is a blessing to have such key figures as Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate.
But the failure to back that duo up with fellow squad members is a sin.
This time last year there was a real spring at Rodney Parade after providing five members of the Wales World Cup squad that did so well in New Zealand.
The hope was that it would herald a brighter future with the Dragons no longer seen as piggy-backing on the success of others.
There used to be conspiracy theories that the region was being overlooked with other less able players getting the nod at the expense of those plying their trade at Rodney Parade.
‘Are you watching Warren Gatland?’ used to be the question from the vocal punters on the Hazell Terrace.
But the harsh truth is that few are really giving him or his deputies food for thought at present.
This is partly because the Dragons are operating on a budget that is paltry compared to most professional sides in Europe, with those in the corridors of power seemingly happy to trundle along.
But it is also because those that are ‘possibles’ have failed to shine so far this season.
I believe that centre/wing Adam Hughes and back row forward Lewis Evans could be in the mix but both have been hindered by injuries.
Loosehead Phil Price made a bright start to the campaign but blotted his copybook with poor displays against the Blues and Scarlets.
Tom Prydie? Definitely a potential squad member but has his work cut out to oust Halfpenny, North and Cuthbert.
Dan Evans? Maybe on the summer tour to Japan but Liam Williams will be his nemesis, just as he was at Parc y Scarlets.
Sam Parry? He has all the tools to be a top hooker in the future but needs to oust Steve Jones for the big Dragons games first.
There will be a gap until the likes of Hallam Amos, Jack Dixon and the much-hyped Tyler Morgan are of an age to be considered for the seniors.
And in the mean time those with potential need to put down a marker.
They should be looking at the festive derbies with the Blues and Ospreys and be desperate to put in a big performance against their peers ahead of the Six Nations.
Because at the moment, while Welsh rugby ponders how to keep its stars in the country, it doesn’t look for Toby to be on his own.